The John Lewis Partnership is a highly successful and respected high street retailer. In an environment of increasing innovation and development new channels to market, John Lewis has become increasingly interested in effective and assured project delivery.
Delivery from projects is more predictable, lessons learned once are used to avoid repetitive errors, and project performance and governance are an important aspect considered when implementing strategy.
The John Lewis Partnership Services project management office (PMO) accepted the challenge to improve project outcomes by giving expert guidance on projects, and overseeing the development of the project management and sponsor communities.
CITI was invited to provide the expertise in support of the PMO's re-skilling, offering advice, guidance and research findings (benchmarks) on project manager development, briefings for sponsors, guidelines on health clinics and effective ways of working within the project environment found in the company.
Approach to solution
CITI first became involved when asked to conduct a review of a critical project. It was evident that the principle concern was the governance and the sponsor was committed to creating the necessary supportive environment for what was ultimately a very successful project.
The depth and breadth of the expertise shown in that engagement by CITI, and with a growing and complex portfolio of projects, senior management invited CITI to work with the newly-formed centralised project office to get control over the projects. CITI used well-tested tools to first gain credibility for the PMO by providing evidence about the status of the individual projects, and then demonstrating that by providing consultancy-type support to the project managers, the PMO could pro-actively improve the performance of the portfolio.
Faced with increasingly complex change portfolios, administratively-focused PMOs provide little benefit to their organisation - and become an expensive overhead. On the other hand, precisely focused guidance, monitoring status and offering access to the organisations learning from its past experience from a PMO is an effective, and often untapped, source of process and performance improvement for the project community.
Models / tools used
CITI introduced a new operating model for the project office:
Roles and responsibilities
Terms of engagement with project managers and sponsors
Effective project assurance tools and approaches
Subsequently CITI helped the project office create development programmes for the community of project managers, sponsors and business analysts to promote consistent good practice more widely.
"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"